Updated: Magene Radar Tail Light is an affordable alternative to Garmin Varia Radar

Editor’s Note: The original post suggested that a monthly subscription was required to access customization of the Magene L508’s various light modes. This is not the case. The 5 modes described herein are available at no additional cost. If the rider wishes to set their preferred light blinking frequency in pulse or breathing mode, Magene offers an additional customization function for a one-off payment of $4.99. Alternatively, the owner can access that feature fore use free by subscribing to Magene emails. 

Magene Fitness, a cycling component manufacturer better known for its affordable power meters and indoor trainers, has introduced a smart tail light that can detect vehicles approaching from the rear, and inform the rider audibly or visible via their GPS computer. Its radar has a 40° beam angle, so is able to detect vehicles even where there is a bend in the road, giving the rider a little heads up on a potential hazard.

Magene L508 Radar Tail Light

magene radar tail light bicycle riding night time

As cyclists, staying safe on the roads is, sadly, not always in our power. Unfortunately, we are very much subject to the whims of other road users, our fates all too often decided by whether or not a person left early enough for work that morning, or how much they had to drink last night, or whether or not they decide to take that poorly timed phone call. A tail light, even in the day time, is a small investment, the value of which you will never have a full understanding of.

Making yourself as visible as possible is a no brainer, but enhancing your own awareness of the presence of vehicles approaching is a secondary solution that could help you stay safe out on the roads. The new Magene L508 Radar Tail Light looks to combine both of those features, linking up with your chosen GPS computer to make you aware of cars coming up from behind. And, it compares rather favorably to the Garmin Varia Radar on affordability, with a suggested retail price $129 USD.

magene tail light radar 140mm away detection range

Its radar relies on millimeter wave pulses to detect slow- and fast-approaching vehicles within a 10-120 kph (6-74 mph) range. Vehicles up to 140 meters away can be detected by the radar, so long as they are travelling within that speed range. It will alert the rider to vehicles approaching from directly behind, but also anything within a 40° range of the rider; so, vehicles that have pulled out of their line early preparing to overtake, or vehicles approaching when you’re half way around a bend.

The tail Magene L508 Radar Tail Light can be set up to alert the rider either audibly, or visually via the display interface of your GPS Computer. It connects to the computer via Bluetooth and ANT+, and is compatible with Magene’s own C406 PRO Computer, as well as most Garmin models, the Wahoo Bolt and Roam, and R750 and S500 models from Bryton. It can also work with most Garmin watches, too.

magene radar tail light alerts rider to approaching cars

The tail light is visible at angles up to 220°, so should help make the rider more visible at junctions where the vast majority of road incidents involving cyclists occur. Magene also claim the L508 Radar Tail Light is visible from up to 1.2 km away. If it does sense a vehicle approaching suddenly from behind, it will automatically enter flash mode for two seconds, increasing the chances of the driver spotting the cyclist.

The L508 also has an integrated acceleration sensor, so is able to detect braking events, even subtle ones, prompting the light the enter “highlight” mode for 3 seconds. The sensor is able to distinguish between actual braking events and bumps in the road, so as not to unnecessarily waste precious battery life.

magene bike light mounting onto seat post

The Magene L508 Radar Tail Light weighs a claimed 65g

The light itself has 5 modes, customizable via the Magene Utility App. If the rider wishes to set their preferred light blinking frequency in pulse or breathing mode, Magene offers an additional customization function for a one-off payment of $4.99 USD. Alternatively, the owner can access that feature fore use free by subscribing to Magene emails. 

magene app tail light mode customization

Battery capacity is dependent on the mode used, of course. In the continuous mode, the battery is claimed to last up to 6 hours, increasing to 10 hours in flash mode, 12 hours in pulse mode, and 8 hours in “peloton” mode. The latter is less bright, so as not to irritate other risers when you’re in a bunch. 

In a bid to conserve battery life further, the tail light has a vibration sensor. After 5 minutes of no detectable vibration, the tail light will assume it is no longer required and enter sleep mode. It will then automatically wake up when it detects movement. The battery can be fully recharged within 3 hours via the Type-C USB port.

magene radar tail light seat post mount

The Magene L508 Radar Tail Light can be mounted to aero and regular round seat posts via a universal rubberized mount. A secondary safety strap is attached to stop the light dropping onto the road if it does somehow become dislodged from its primary mount.

Pricing & Availability

The Magene L508 Radar Tail Light competes well with the comparable Garmin Varia Radar on price, retailing at around $129 USD (though it does lack the camera boasted by the Garmin option).

MageneFitness.com

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25 Comments
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KJO
KJO
1 month ago

A monthly subscription to control the blink pattern? LMAO.

Roger Pedacter
Roger Pedacter
1 month ago
Reply to  KJO

Yeah, I just got a new bike and was on board to get this instead of a Varia until I saw that.
.
Says a lot about a company when they expect you to keep paying to fully unlock (relatively basic) hardware you purchased.

Milessio
Milessio
1 month ago
Reply to  KJO

No mention of a monthly payment! From company info, even that may not be charged:

Be A MAGENIUS
*The Customizable Light Mode Setting function can be activated for $4.99 by paying through the Magene Utility APP.
Magene is offering a special BONUS for our USERS
From now on, become a Magenius and you can activate the Customizable Light Mode Setting function for free.
How to become a Magenius?
Find the package insert card to get more tips

Even then it’s not clear what extra customisation will be possible – an extra mode? flash rate?, brightness?
In comparison, Garmin Varias have no customisation possible at any price.

meso
10 days ago
Reply to  Milessio

It lets you customise the duration of the pulses or flash duration and whether the radar is on in a particular mode. It’s also free if you agree to get an email. Kinda stilly but not intrusive.

Rich
Rich
1 month ago

Can it detect bicycles, electric scooters? Or just vehicles.

Milessio
Milessio
1 month ago
Reply to  Rich

It just detects approaching objects, so any vehicles, including bicycles etc. Maybe even dogs sprinting to chase you!

Riley
Riley
1 month ago
Reply to  Milessio

I purchased the L508 radar tail light and did not have to pay monthly fee. The feature that requires a subscription to unlock, it’s just a customize light mode setting. You can set up flashing or breathing mode, and customize the frequency of flashing or breathing. The way to unlock this feature is simple, you just need to subscribe to Magene’s Email. I think it’s a marketing move on their part. But if you don’t want to be bothered by any marketing emails, you can just unlock the feature for $4.99. hahaha

TDO
TDO
1 month ago

I don’t have a problem with them pretty much copying the Varia, but why would they copy Garmin’s horrible mount? The strap/hook design is the worst I’ve seen. Really glad I trusted my gut and took my light off the bike when it was on my car rack, got home and the mount had fallen off somewhere.

Brian
Brian
27 days ago
Reply to  TDO

I got a 3D printed Varia mount that ties into my Bontrager tail light and saddle mounting bolts. It has a much more solid feel to it.

Grillis
Grillis
1 month ago

That subscription is total sale killer.

Paul
Paul
1 month ago
Reply to  Grillis

An additional $60 a year for this make a garmin a bargain

Riley
Riley
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

I purchased the L508 radar tail light and did not have to pay monthly fee. The feature that requires a subscription to unlock, it’s just a customize light mode setting. You can set up flashing or breathing mode, and customize the frequency of flashing or breathing. The way to unlock this feature is simple, you just need to subscribe to Magene’s Email. I think it’s a marketing move on their part. But if you don’t want to be bothered by any marketing emails, you can just unlock the feature for $4.99. hahaha

bigdood
bigdood
1 month ago
Reply to  Grillis

eleventy million percent agree

Tyler
Tyler
1 month ago

Pretty sure the customization is the subscription feature…the light still works and has multiple modes without paying anything extra.

Tyler
Tyler
1 month ago
Reply to  Tyler

Are there any blinking modes available without subscribing?

Milessio
Milessio
1 month ago
Reply to  Tyler

It has both a flash & a breath/pulse mode as standard.

Darren
Darren
1 month ago

Apparently the Editor has not actually used the product, and the five modes of lighting do not require a payment/subscription.

If you want to customize the frequency of flashing lights to your liking, you can turn this on by subscribing to magene’s emails. If you don’t want too many marketing emails, magene also offers a paid option. 

I have tested it and even if I unsubscribe, the feature of customizing the light frequency still works.

workonsunday
workonsunday
1 month ago

probably worth pointing out, for any doubters, Magene owns quite a good percentage of Wahoo and they also OEM Wahoo’s trainers. Not just-another-chinese-brand so to speak. (I personally dont like the copy cats, but i think we still need to be fair and not dismiss it for the wrong reason)

dr_lha
dr_lha
28 days ago
Reply to  workonsunday

You’re thinking of Kurt Kinetic, not Wahoo, I’m fairly sure. The new Kinetic trainers are just rebadged Magene ones. Wahoo is a competitor, not a partner.

mtbfoo
mtbfoo
27 days ago

The price difference is not that significant for this to catch on and really compete with the Garmin Varia, at least for me.

dr_lha
dr_lha
26 days ago
Reply to  mtbfoo

$70 isn’t a significant price difference?